Custom Websites vs. Free Templates

The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’, is especially true when it comes to choosing to go ahead with a new business website. A quick Google search will reveal a plethora of free website options that look professional, simple to use and are easy to setup. Why pay a team of professionals to do something you can so easily do yourself?

I’ll answer that question with one of my own; would you do your own home’s electrical work, or hire a professional?

Before your obvious answer, let’s dwell on the idea for a short time. Imagine that you’re lying in bed, your children are tucked in and you’ve finished a hard day at work. Could you rest easy knowing that your family are at a heightened risk due to your handiwork?

Of course not, you’ll pay the professional! Website design and development is not so different from the concept of wiring a new home. We all know how to change a light bulb, but it’s what we don’t see that powers the house.

A quick comparison between the two

Web designers and web developers aren’t just professionals with a degree under their belt who understand colour theory and make things ‘look pretty.’ They also know what design techniques work best on differently formatted screens and understand how to create an effective ‘call to action’ to help boost inbound enquiries. A good web designer will focus on the usability of your website and adjust their designs based on analytics and research that shows where your customers click on your site.

A free template on the other hand won’t understand your brand, your businesses’ unique selling point, or what message you’re trying to convey to your customer. It will be identical to many other websites and will rank very poorly in Google, which means any potential customers will rarely see your site. You can have the best free template in the world, but if it can’t be found by Google, it’s not going to generate business leads and can’t even begin to drive conversions to your business.

It’s a lot more effort and money for a professional site

Here’s a list of common fears people have when deciding to go ahead with a professional website:

  • The web designer might think you’re inept
  • You won’t be able to customise the site to look how you want it to look
  • You won’t be able to make the decisions on changes
  • It’s too expensive

In reality none of this is true – in fact it’s the opposite

  • Web designers understand that you’re the expert in your field
  • Web designers will help design the site you and your customers want
  • You do make the decisions on changes, but you also get to meet a lovely web designer
  • It’s a great investment that will pay itself off effectively over time

Real life example

Years ago I was approached by a potential client that wanted help setting up a template so that they could add blogs, interesting videos and news to their website without the expensive ongoing fees of a web designer.

I gave them a similar speech to what I’ve written here, and they understood the analogy and agreed wholeheartedly with what I had to say. However, their rebuttal was that they would lose out on the ability to dynamically add content to their website.

My jaw dropped.

Choosing to go ahead with a professional website should always mean that you’re given the ability to personally update your website with news, specials, blogs and products. No exceptions. If you’re told that it’s not possible for that to happen, shop elsewhere.

An easy choice?

Perhaps you’re convinced; maybe you’re still on the fence. Either way, simply ask yourself whether the risk of sacrificing quality is worth the short-term savings. It’s your call, but personally I don’t want to be stuck in a house with bad electrics, nor would I want my own business to be stuck with an ineffective website. I’m guessing neither would you.